An international promotion campaign has helped boost exports of Italian plastics and rubber processing machinery by 22% during the first half of this year. According to Italian trade body Assocomaplast exports in the period hit an estimated €1.1bn in value. Assocomoplast president Giorgio Colombo attributed the rise in export to the organisation’s work in promoting Italian machinery abroad. In the past year, Assocomoplast has set up liaison offices in Beijing and Moscow, and an information platform in India. Italian SMEs have also redoubled their efforts to enter growing markets, he said. Looking at the type of machinery exported, extruders accounted for a large chunk of the total (11%). Flexographic printers achieved strong growth during the first six months of the year, with sales rising 20%. Exports to European markets rose 30%, while sales to China rose 24%. However, sales to the near and Middle East showed a decline of 5% compared to the first six months of 2010, attributed by Assocomoplast to the socio-political instability in the area. There was also a decline in exports to Africa and Australasia. For 2011, Assocomoplast predicts that export sales will total €2.3bn by the end of the year. Production is expected to rise 11.1%, while the domestic market will grow 6.7%.